Israel to consider deportation of US student over boycott support

Lara Alqasem

Israel’s Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday is expected to schedule a hearing for an appeal against the deportation of a US student of Palestinian descent, who was denied entry into the Israeli-occupied territories last week over her alleged support of the movement to boycott Israel.

Lara Alqasem launched the appeal against her deportation after an earlier Tel Aviv Court of Appeals decision found that authorities had not strayed from guidelines in demanding that she be sent home, Haaretz reported.

Alqasem, 22, who has Palestinian grandparents, was prevented from entering Israel after arriving at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, despite having received a student visa from the Israeli consulate in Miami to study in a masters program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has been held in an airport detention facility ever since.

The Population Immigration and Border Authority said the decision was due to Alqasem’s “boycott activity,” while Strategic Affairs Ministry officials said she was a member of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a campus group that calls for boycotting Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians.

The deportation order was blocked Wednesday by the Entry to Israel Law Review Tribunal, but the following day the Tel Aviv Appeals Court found that the decision to deport her had not “deviated from the margin of reasonableness in a manner that justifies intervention,” according to Haartez.

Alqasem was reportedly the president of SJP during 2016-2017, when the group urged boycotts of Israeli companies and cultural ties.

In court on Thursday, Alqasem argued that there were only five members in the branch and therefore she cannot be considered a senior figure in a national organization, a status that would make her eligible for deportation according to ministry guidelines, the report said.

Alqasem’s detention came less than a week after Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber said the Shin Bet security service would no longer ask detainees at border crossings about their political views and that regulations to that effect would be reiterated to officials at the borders.

The statement from Zilber followed a month-long inquiry after American Jewish journalist and prominent critic of the Israeli government Peter Beinart said he was questioned on his political views upon arriving in Israel.

(Source / 07.10.2018)

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